5 Things to Consider When Writing for Social Media
This is a basics 101 article on the five things to consider when you’re writing for your company’s social media accounts. Writing is a skill that can be developed and writing for social media is a specialized niche.
1. Think About Your Audience
When writing for social media, what you write and how you write it is going to depend on who your audience is. Usually, 100% marketing copy only for posts will not go far on social media, especially for a small business.
When you’re speaking to your audience and making no motions to engage them, you lose the social part of marketing. In this same sense, if you’re a snack company, you wouldn’t only talk about the chips you sell. You’d also talk about the crackers and how you made the cookies.
For a coffee business, audiences will vary. Research who your audience is first (guide and template here). Then tailor your posts to reflect either the current distribution or what you want the distribution to be. A cafe would likely talk to current and potential consumers while a wholesale roaster would focus on talking to cafes and restaurants.
Ona makes bags for photographers. In this post, they show what one photographer carries in their bag. The message is aimed directly at photographers and has an underlying one of “Look how much one of our bags can hold” without directly saying so.
2. Grammar, Spelling & Slang All Matter
Hand-in-hand with learning who your audience is finding the voice that you want to use. I wrote a short audit & guide on how to look at your brand voice. For the most part, businesses should stick with correct spelling and grammar, with the caveat that it should be in the language you choose.
If your brand voice has a unique vocabulary, then it might be more important than “proper” spelling.
The Everygirl’s caption is casual and friendly. The way it’s written isn’t meant for every brand but it works for theirs and their audience.
To keep a check on your grammar, I recommend installing Grammarly’s free browser extension.
3. Short Usually Wins, but Long Isn’t Terrible
Reports will tell you that the ideal post length for social media hang towards the low side. Buzzsumo found that the most engaging posts in 2016 were less than 50 characters.
This being said, you really need to consider what does best for your brand. Humans of New York is one of the best examples of this in action.
Their posts frequently go beyond the “recommended” amount, yet their posts are still read because the content is worth it.
4. Use Psychology
Google “copywriting psychology” and you’ll come up with a ton of results and tips on how to use psychology to your writing benefit. And before you say that this sounds shady, it is. It’s what marketing is based in. It’s why stories sell. If I told you to buy this donut, you probably wouldn’t. But if I told you how I went to the store, dug through lots of donuts to find this perfect one, talked to the baker about how they prepared the icing, etc- then you would be more likely to buy the donut.
Learning the psychology behind why people buy things or what makes people click on an ad is part of marketing and copywriting. The fear of missing out is real. If there’s a sense of urgency in your sale or a limited edition to your product, it’s more likely to spur the consumer into buying immediately.
We're unlocking millions of low fares for your winter travel!
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 2, 2018
Southwest often has sales but they’re usually short running. This winter one is only for three days and you can see how they made that line stand out in their graphic.
5. Be Concise
Concise and clear communication matter on social media, especially when it’s regarding customer service and a global audience. Don’t use two messy sentences when one will do (unless this is in your brand voice).
For the most part, it is difficult to inject tone into written communication. Imagine reading your posts in a teenager’s voice and then in a grandparent’s voice. Could they be misinterpreted? Do you have a bunch of commas in your sentences that might be confusing to a non-native English speaking audience?
Every Away past has lots of comments, sometimes having nothing to do with the photo. I can’t even imagine how many notifications their social media team must receive. You can click on any post and see how they’ve responded in comments. They’re always cordial, understanding, and effective.
These are a few starting tips on writing for social media. There are plenty more copywriting ideas and tips out there. If you’re struggling with writing, the best I can say is that practice really helps. The more you write (even if you don’t post it all), the better you get. Taking a look at your analytics also helps you understand what works and what doesn’t.